Microsoft sure seems to be having a ton of fun with HoloLens while the rest of us wait for it to stop being a research project and become a real thing that we can purchase and use. But in the meanwhile, those research projects are bonkers. The latest is called "Holoportation," a term that sounds ridiculously corny until you see it demonstrated, at which point the sci-fi terminology feels completely justified.
Microsoft's I3D research group has figured out how to create a live hologram of another person to be placed in another room. A massive array of 3D cameras in one room captures an entire person's movements and speech in real time, then projects them into another room where a HoloLens user can see them and interact with them. It's hard to fully explain in prose, but watch the video below and you'll get it: it's exactly like the hologram communication you've seen in Star Wars.
As you can see, it requires a ton of hardware (and, one assumes, a ton of computing power) to make it work. But once it's all set up, you can not only communicate with a hologram in real time, you can also record the interaction for playback and even shrink down the holograms to set on a table.
It's been over a year since we saw our first demonstrations of HoloLens, and presumably Microsoft plans to find a way to release a consumer edition soon. Interactions like this one probably won't be in the cards for a while, if only because it requires too much hardware to pull off. But pretty soon we'll begin to see what researchers and developers who don't work at Microsoft can think up. The developer edition of HoloLens — which costs $3000 — should start shipping in just a few days.
Microsoft Build, its giant developer conference, also kicks off next week. We'll be there with live coverage, and hopefully we'll find out even more about HoloLens.